Alexander Hamilton Papers
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Constitutional Convention. Remarks on the Organization of the House of Representatives, [21 June 1787]

Constitutional Convention. Remarks on the
Organization of the House of Representatives1

[Philadelphia, June 21, 1787]

Col. Hamilton considered the motion2 as intended manifestly to transfer the election from the people to the State Legislatures, which would essentially vitiate the plan. It would increase that State influence which could not be too watchfully guarded agst. All too must admit the possibility, in case the Genl. Govt. shd. maintain itself, that the State Govts. might gradually dwindle into nothing. The system therefore shd. not be engrafted on what might possibly fail.

Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 142–43.

1The versions of these remarks recorded by Robert Yates and John Lansing, Jr., were as follows. Yates: “It is essential to the democratic rights of the community, that this branch be directly elected by the people. Let us look forward to probable events. There may be a time when state legislatures may cease, and such an event ought not to embarrass the national government” (Yates, Secret Proceedings and Debates description begins Robert Yates, Secret Proceedings and Debates of the Convention Assembled at Philadelphia, in the Year 1787, For the Purpose of Forming the Constitution of The United States of America (Albany, 1821). description ends , 149). Lansing: “If you permit Legislatures to elect you will have State Interests represented” (Notes of John Lansing description begins Joseph R. Strayer, ed., The Delegate from New York or Proceedings of the Federal Convention of 1787 from the Notes of John Lansing, Jr. (Princeton, 1939). description ends , 76).

2The motion was made by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and stated “that the 1st. branch [of the legislature] instead of being elected by the people, shd. be elected in such manner as the Legislature of each State should direct” (Hunt and Scott, Debates description begins Gaillard Hunt and James Brown Scott, eds., The Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Which Framed the Constitution of the United States of America. Reported by James Madison (New York, 1920). description ends , 142).

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